Legislative Committee rejects on line casino proposal



he House Economic Development Committee voted on Friday in favor of a proposal by the Hawaiian Homeland Department (DHHL) that would have authorized the development of a resort casino in Kapolei.

MP Sean Quinlan, Chairman of the Committee, postponed indefinitely House bill 359, A step that will postpone the proposal until the next legislative period in 2022.

A companion measure is still alive in the Senate, although the gambling bills are being rejected by some lawmakers and the governor, Civil Beat reports.

The DHHL saw in the proposal a new way to generate the necessary income for the financially troubled agency. Without new sources of income, the department estimates it could take more than 180 years to build the infrastructure and homes necessary to eliminate a growing list of Hawaiians waiting to access homeland.

Neither the House Speaker, Scott Saiki, nor the President of the Senate, Ron Kouchi, endorse the casino's proposal. The chances of gaining approval in the next year seem slim, at least for the time being.

Although Quinlan had postponed the measure, he expressed his displeasure with the legislature, which did not provide DHHL with enough funds. This was a problem for several years after a number of state court rulings told lawmakers to adequately fund the department.

"Every two years we swear an oath on the state constitution, and every two years we do not follow that oath with the money owed to Hawaiians," Quinlan said during the hearing.

Committee vice chairman Dan Holt urged his colleagues to make funding a priority for the department and the Department of Hawaiian Affairs.

In a statement, DHHL Director William Aila thanked Deputy Director Tyler Iokepa Gomes and DHHL staff for their work on the casino proposal.

"Although the committee's postponement of HB 359 was not an ideal outcome, we look forward to the future with hope," Aila said in a statement.

An accompanying Senate measure, Senate Bill 1321, is due to be negotiated on Thursday at 1 p.m.